Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The U.S. Army's Experiments With LSD In The Cold War

Van-Murray-Sim.jpg
High Anxiety: LSD in the Cold War
For decades, the U.S. Army conducted secret clinical experiments with psychochemicals at Edgewood Arsenal. In the nineteen-sixties, Army Intelligence expanded the arsenal’s work on LSD, testing the drug as an enhanced-interrogation technique in Europe and Asia. This companion piece to “Operation Delirium,” which ran in the December 17th issue of The New Yorker, documents the people who were involved and what they did.

Dr. Van Murray Sim, the founder of Edgewood Arsenal’s program of clinical research on psychochemicals, was a man of deep contradictions. He was a Navy veteran, but he worked at the Army post as a civilian. For the doctors who worked with him, he was like Dr. Strangelove; he was a leader; he was the “Mengele of Edgewood”; he was a good old soul. Sim could be manipulative and vengeful, ethically shortsighted, incoherently rambling, rashly slipshod in his methods, but he was also fearless and ambitious and devoted to chemical-warfare research. He was gargantuan—his body exuded forcefulness, like an oversized rook on a chessboard—but he was willing to allow himself to be rendered helpless. In 1959, he was the first person to be given VX, a highly lethal nerve agent. As the drug began to take effect, Sim became irrational and started to thrash around. “I was having difficulty with vision, seeing—a distortion of vision, sweating, tremors, nausea, vomiting,” he later recalled. His face grew pale. He eventually stopped talking and descended into a world of his own imaginings.

For the rest of the story: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/12/us-army-experiments-with-lsd-in-the-cold-war.html

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